Google had a lot to prove coming into I/O 2023 — and the company showed up with a ton of AI announcements to show it would be a serious player in the field.
There was a new large language model, AI features in Docs and Sheets, and generative features in Android. And Google demoed a major overhaul to Google Search that puts generative results front and center.
The company also announced a wave of new Pixel devices, including the Pixel Fold, Pixel Tablet, and Pixel 7A.
Read on below for all the details.
The nine biggest announcements from Google I/O 2023
Google just finished up its I/O keynote, where it announced some pretty major updates to its Pixel lineup and showed off its latest advances in AI. If you didn’t get a chance to watch the event live, we’ve rounded up all of the biggest news that came out of the Google I/O keynote.Read Article >
Google’s Pixel hardware took center stage during the keynote, as the company launched three new products: the Pixel Fold, the Pixel Tablet, and the budget-friendly Pixel 7A.
Google’s AI tools embrace the dream of Clippy
The words “it looks like you’re writing a letter, would you like some help with that?” didn’t appear at any point during Google’s recent demo of its AI office suite tools. But as I watched Aparna Pappu, Google’s Workspace leader, outline the feature onstage at I/O, I was reminded of a certain animated paperclip that another tech giant once hoped would help usher in a new era of office work.Read Article >
Even Microsoft would acknowledge that Clippy’s legacy is not wholly positive, but the virtual assistant is forever associated with a particular period of work — one packed to the brim with laborious emails, clip art, and beige computers with clunking hard drives. Now, work has changed — it’s Slack pings, text cursors jostling in a Google Doc, and students who don’t know what file systems are — and as generative AI creeps into our professional lives, both Google and Microsoft are recognizing that it’s calling for a new era of tools to get things done.
May 13Google is making big changes to how we use the internet,
but are those changes going to destroy Google and a lot of others in the process? This week on the Vergecast we talked about that, the shockingly good looking Pixel Fold, and everything else announced at Google I/O.
Google’s AI pitch is a recipe for email hell
Of all the emotions I expected out of this week’s Google I/O keynote, “dread” was not on my short list. Google has spent a couple of decades creating products that make my life easier. This week, it demonstrated the exact opposite: a way to make communicating with other people worse.Read Article >
Google I/O, this year, was focused on artificial intelligence, and one of its centerpieces was prompt-based text generation, particularly in Google’s office suite. At several points throughout the keynote, it demoed a system called “Help me write” — which rewrites simple prompts in Gmail and other apps as more polished paragraphs of text. But more polished doesn’t automatically mean better.
Android 14 played a surprisingly small role in Google’s I/O keynote
There was a chilly marine layer hanging in the air above the Shoreline Amphitheater, but the danceable beats thumped on in spite of it. Dan Deacon was playing a set that had something to do with AI, followed by a person in a duck costume dancing on stage. Not the kind of spectacle you’re typically expecting before you’ve even had your second cup of coffee, but that’s Google I/O, baby.Read Article >
I/O is, of course, the company’s yearly developer conference, and it officially kicked off on Wednesday morning when CEO Sundar Pichai took the stage, headlining a two-hour presentation that was almost entirely centered on AI. We got a preview of what’s coming to Google Search, Gmail, and Photos, along with an unappetizing, photo-realistic image of pizza fondue. It was all AI, top to bottom. We were reassured, again and again, that Google is being responsible with its AI implementation and that the company is taking steps to make sure the technology doesn’t end life on the planet as we know it.
Can Google’s Pixel Fold really hang?
I don’t give a damn about the bezels. Just let me get that part of Google’s new $1,799 Pixel Fold out of the way. They’re fine. And I’m absolutely on board with the squat form factor: having this phone / tablet hybrid feel like a notepad in hand when it’s closed seems like a far better solution than Samsung’s tall boy.Read Article >
The Galaxy Fold 4 is too narrow for us large-handed humans, and when opened up, its square-ish inner display leaves sizable black bars when watching videos. In his Pixel Fold hands-on, my colleague Dan Seifert found Google’s wider aspect ratio to feel more natural for multitasking.
The Ask Jeeves-ification of online search
There are some who will tell you that Ask Jeeves was right all along. I’m less sure that’s true. In fact, I am starting to think that if you are a technical person who is considering a startup, Google’s fascination with adding a slow and unreliable AI chat to its results is an opening for you to put a brick on the gas pedal and absolutely run Google over.Read Article >
Ask Jeeves launched in 1997, and the idea was that you’d type a natural-language query into the box, and the valet would come back with an answer. (Jeeves is named for P.G. Wodehouse’s famous character, a near-omniscient man with a “feudal spirit.” Disclosure: my cat is also named for this character.) It was popular until Google Search entered the scene — an engine with a better ability to crawl the web, among its other strengths.
16 ways that Android 14 will subtly improve your phone
It wouldn’t be Google I/O if the company didn’t have a new version of its smartphone and tablet operating system waiting in the wings — and while Android 14 got totally upstaged by AI and the company’s first folding phone, we’ve since learned more from the company’s developer sessions.Read Article >
Don’t get too excited: these changes are subtle! But here are a few ways Google’s “Upside Down Cake” might make your life slightly sweeter when it arrives this fall.
Google’s new Pixel Tablet might be the end of the smart display
With the arrival of the Pixel Tablet with a charging speaker dock at Google I/O this week, Google did what it does best: killed a product. Only this time, it didn’t just kill its product; it foreshadowed the death of the entire smart display category. Ah well. They had a good run, but folks, it’s the end of the line. The precise time of death was when Google exec Rose Yao described the new Pixel Tablet on its dock like this: “It feels like a smart display, but it has one huge advantage … Android apps.”Read Article >
When one of really only two companies that make smart displays proudly proclaims that its shiny new smart home control device is not a smart display, the game is up. Yao also correctly pointed out one of two major problems with smart displays: their software is frustratingly limited. The other problem? Their hardware is bad, too. That’s a powerful double blow.
May 12Sick of downloading Android apps to your Chromebook?
Chrome OS was not particularly, shall we say, present at the Google I/O event on Wednesday, but there was one neat announcement: You can now stream apps to a Chromebook from an Android phone. This is something you could already do in Windows, but it’s nice to see Chrome OS hopping on the train.
To get this set up, Google’s instructions say to make sure Phone Hub is enabled on your Chromebook and that you’re running Android 13 or newer.
Google wants you to forget the 10 blue links
The single most visited page on the internet is undergoing its most radical change in 25 years.Read Article >
On Wednesday, Google introduced a major overhaul of its search results page that infuses the screen with AI. Called the Search Generative Experience (SGE), the new interface makes it so that when you type a query into the search box, the so-called “10 blue links” that we’re all familiar with appear for only a brief moment before being pushed off the page by a colorful new shade with AI-generated information. The shade pushes the rest of Google’s links far down the page you’re looking at — and when I say far, I mean almost entirely off the screen.
May 12On The Vergecast: how changing Google changes the internet, and our many feelings on foldable phones.
Fresh off the Google I/O keynote, we tried to make sense of what it all means — and whether the company’s relentless push toward AI is going to completely change the internet as we know it. Or at least make all your emails long and unreadable.
How Google is making up for lost time
The arrival of ChatGPT last year sent a rare shiver through Google’s spine. For years the company had positioned itself as a leader in the development in artificial intelligence. Suddenly, though, a product from the upstart OpenAI rocketed to tens of millions of monthly users — and observers began asking whether Google had squandered its lead.Read Article >
Within weeks, leaders at the company declared a “code red” — a signal that the time to begin shipping AI features was now. (It was widely reported that CEO Sundar Pichai declared the code red, but he later told me that it wasn’t the case.)
The Pixel Tablet is half of what it could have been
I’m not surprised; I’m just disappointed.Read Article >
As expected, Google launched the Pixel Tablet at its Google I/O developer conference yesterday. It’s an 11-inch Android tablet with a “charging speaker dock,” and when it’s on the dock, it looks and functions like a Nest Hub Max, Google’s top-of-the-line smart display. Google kept saying the Pixel Tablet was “like” a smart display, while insisting that it isn’t one.
May 11Google has some new tools for face filters.
Like Face Landmarker, which can apparently let you make something like what’s shown in the below GIF. (Which admittedly looks a lot like an Apple Memoji.) Very interested to see what developers make with these tools.
May 11If you missed the Google I/O keynote yesterday.
We have a longer recap video too, of course, plus every update from the event and a list of the key highlights, but this is how it sounded for the most part.
Google’s Find My Devices network adds key and wallet trackers from Chipolo
Google’s freshly expanded Find My Device platform has two new trackers coming from Chipolo: the One Point key finder and the Card Point wallet finder. While these trackers are dedicated to Google’s location tracking service, Chipolo also offers similar One Spot and Card Spot trackers for Apple’s Find My service.Read Article >
The names here are fairly self-explanatory. The new Card Point wallet finder resembles a thick credit card that slips into your purse or wallet, while the One Point key finder is a puck-shaped keyring. The latter is small enough to use in other circumstances though, such as keeping tabs on your luggage, bike, or even on a pet collar.
May 10280 million Android slates of some sort are in active use — and maybe 32,000 people are snapping shots every second on Android.
Two stats from Google I/O that I’ve never seen.
As of today, we’re still at “more than 3 billion active Android devices around the world,” so perhaps neither number is all that surprising. (The “talk” in question was 17.5 minutes long, if you’re wondering about my math.)
May 10We finally got our hands on Google’s Pixel Fold.
Forget the leaks and the spec sheets; we went to Google I/O and got to use the company’s pricey (it starts at $1,799.99) new folding phone.
Dan Seifert can tell you more about the Pixel Fold’s hinge and show you what it looks like next to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 — check out our entire writeup if you need even more details.
Google and Taito are teaming up on an AR Space Invaders game
Google and Taito are partnering on a new augmented reality version of the arcade classic Space Invaders. The new game, Space Invaders: World Defense, will use Google tools like ARCore and newly-announced Geospatial Creator to let AR Space Invaders aliens fly around real-world locations.Read Article >
Based on a GIF in a Google tweet, it appears you’ll play the game kind of like a shooting gallery. In the GIF, a handful of aliens appear near and around a static city image, and a reticle appears so that the player can blast the aliens out of the sky. I get the sense this footage might not be fully representative of the final game, though — it kind of looks like the aliens have just been animated over a stock photo.
May 10If you don’t have two hours to watch the Google I/O keynote, you can catch our recap here.
In just about 16 minutes, we cover the highlights of today’s I/O presentation, from the Pixel Fold to AI in everything.
Here’s how the new Google Pixel Fold stacks up to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4
Google’s taken a page from Samsung’s book and made itself a foldable phone. In fact, the newly announced Google Pixel Fold, shown off at Google I/O 2023 alongside the Pixel 7A and Pixel Tablet, looks as if it borrowed a few chapters from Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4. The foldables share a fairly striking resemblance since Google opted for the phone-unfolds-into--tablet method of design philosophy and an equally lofty $1,799.99 starting price. However, when you look just a little closer, you notice some stark differences.Read Article >
Here, we’re pitting the two folding ultra-flagships up against one another to compare their specs and features on paper. While Samsung is on its fourth iteration of the Galaxy Fold, Google will be a first-time player in the world of foldable phones when the Pixel Fold launches in late June. But can Google really even compete with a first-gen product?
May 10On The Vergecast: foldable phones, and the uncertain future of Google.
Ahead of I/O, we tried to make sense of this moment for Google, and the many threats the company faces. And then we talked about phones, foldable phones, tablets, and what’s up with Google gadgets. Google’s a weird company, and it’s a weird time to be Google!
Google’s new Pixel Tablet is a $500 slate for the home
Google is officially back in the tablet business. After teasing it a year ago, the company has now announced the Pixel Tablet, a $499 slab that’s available for preorder starting today, May 10th, and will begin shipping on June 20th.Read Article >
Google’s history with tablets has been, well, fraught. The only real success it’s had was with the Nexus 7, a cheap, small tablet that was beloved when it came out back in 2012. The subsequent years saw the company try lots of ideas on portable touchscreen computers, launching new tablets with either Android or ChromeOS and then abandoning them shortly after. None ever recaptured the success of the Nexus 7. It even got to the point where Google’s head of hardware said it wouldn’t bother making new tablets anymore in 2019.
How the Pixel 7A compares to the rest of Google’s Pixel 7 lineup — and the 6A
The new Pixel Fold wasn’t the only smartphone Google introduced during this year’s Google I/O keynote. The budget-friendly Pixel 7A, a phone that essentially functions as a stripped-down version of last year’s Pixel 7, is already available at multiple retailers for $499.Read Article >
At 6.1 inches, Google’s latest Pixel phone is just as small as its predecessor, the Pixel 6A, but this year, it comes with a few extra perks not present on the last-gen model. That includes support for wireless charging, a new chipset, and a higher-refresh display for smoother scrolling — factors that surely play into the phone’s $50 price increase.
Google’s new Project Starline prototype isn’t a giant booth
Google has revealed a new, smaller version of its Project Starline 3D telepresence technology as part of its bevy of updates announced at Google I/O.Read Article >
In the past, I’ve described Project Starline as a video chat booth because it was a booth you could actually sit in to talk to lifelike holographic projections of another person. I got to sit in a Starline booth last October, and I thought it was really impressive. But this new Starline prototype looks more like a big TV that I can more reasonably imagine fitting in an office or conference room.